Circles Within Circles
"This cohesive society that we have carefully nurtured and kept together for 40 years will be fractured. Racial harmony will be destroyed. Whether or not WP intends for this to happen, this will be the tragic result if they implement these ideas."
The above statement by Minister Ng Eng Hen can be found over at Mr Wang's eminently interesting blog. The seeds of electoral contest in Singapore are stirring. To place matters in context, the Workers' Party issued their manifesto sometime last week and Ng's reply was the first official PAP response to WP's manifesto.
And it is an expected response. It is a chilling response. It is a silencing response. And it is a response of closure.
It is a technocrat's response. It is not a politician's response.
Let’s recover the response.
If in forty years of careful nurturing to build a cohesive society, Singapore has not achieved resilience and remains fragile to fracture, whose failure is that? Singapore was born in a state of emergency and it remains in a state of perpetual emergency, as I have often repeated. Non State-sanctioned narratives and alternative possibilities are fore-doomed to fail because it will fracture the cohesiveness of society, racial harmony. But fractures can heal. If so then, racial harmony will be destroyed. Destroyed is a harder word than fracture. Like a nihil. Annihilated.
When the notion that "racial harmony will be destroyed" is invoked in this manner in Singapore, it is an effective silencing. Time and time again, this sacrosanct of Singapore is raised as a red banner to quell alternative opinions, close off pandora-ic possibilities. Such a reflexive State response is rooted time and again in the State's dialogue (or monologue) with Singapore's past, a dialogue which scripts a two-trackeded narrative. The first of progress, modernity and success of Singapore with the PAP and the second, a narrative of communalism and emergency. And this second narrative fashions and shapes the sense of perpetual peril that grips Singapore.
Questioning is the piety of thought. Why will racial harmony be destroyed? In this case by the scrapping of grass-roots organisations, elected Presidency and ethnic-based organisations and the raising of subsidies. What are the implicit assumptions hidden in such a statement : racial harmony will be destroyed. ? . It is not may, it is not possible, it is a "will". Imperative. Will be destroyed. Its like a hidden formula, a self destruct mechanism that is inevitable. Will be destroyed. Have we spent 40 years carefully nurturing a cohesive society that will be destroyed so easily?
Ng is one of the new Ministers. To provide the renewal in thought and in perspective to drive Singapore forward in this millennium. How then can it be that we fall back on this specter of racial disintegration to address issues of possible renewal? It is very very hard for any Singaporean, schooled so perfectly in the structured box of Singapore to think out of the box. The danger to Singapore is not the danger of racial harmony failing, but that paralysis in thought that occurs when faced with parameters you have little or no courage to question.
The pioneering politicians in Singapore, the LKYs and the Goh Keng Swees, did not act within the parameters which the situation of early modern Singapore presented to them. They thought out of the box and created something, and to their credit, successfully. That ensured the State's survival. But new situations demand new thought and old specters, prior parameters, cannot be so simply invoked to unscript the new.
"Whether or not WP intends for this to happen" -- The innuendoes implicit in this single line is stunning in breadth and depth. Ruminate on this : either way, the WP is either deliberately willing racial disintegration on Singapore or its utter short-sightedness will doom Singapore. In a single imperative sentence, WP has been foreclosed as traders of tragedy.
And Singapore, that sullen child, absorbs this silencing statement in silence. When will the teacher recover that intuitive link with this sullen child? To unravel the cynicism that simmers and flashes ever momentarily into the open as a sardonic smile, a barbed witticism, a sly dig, a cool disinterest, a rational detachment?
Singapore is fragile indeed. Fragile because of this sullen disposition which arises from an unwillingly willed paralysis of thought. And it may be that our survival in today's world hinges more on fracturing this paralysis of thought than the imagined proximity of racial disharmony.
I am XenoBoy. I am the Political Savant.
Quote of the Day --
"Circle within circle, light within light ... We interpret and defeat their terms with terminus. The night? what of it. It is filled with bestial watchmen, trammeling the extremities and the interstices of the timeless city, portents fallen, constellated deities plummeting in ash and smoke, roaming the apocryphal cities, the cities of speculation and reconstituted disorder, of insemination and incipience, swept round with the dark." -- Samuel R. Delaney, Dhalgren